The Art of Negotiation


checkersThe first rule of negotiation is that everyone needs to win something and lose something.  If one party wants everything their way or they “hit the highway”, then they are not negotiating, they are dictating.  When one side continues to change their position, giving up a little more “win” and adding more “lose” the other side needs to acknowledge the effort by doing the same thing.  Eventually both sides meet close to the middle.

Yet if one side is frozen on their way and not willing to give up anything, they have zero credible claim to be negotiating at all.  In fact, no matter how right their position may be, the problem will never be resolved because they are unwilling to offer alternatives.

As I watch our elected leaders this week debate a spending resolution, I watch one party reducing their position over and over to strike a deal.  Never is the first offer on the table going to be a favorite of the other side, but it is the starting point.  The place that you back down from as you move toward the other point of view.  The other party is glued to their seats and want it their way and will accept nothing less.  We now have a government shutdown, and the side stuck to their all or nothing position has the audacity to blame the party negotiating as being at fault.

Can you imagine playing a game of checkers where only one color gets to move their pieces around the board?  Not only does no one win, nothing gets done!

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